Badly fitting shorts, low-cut polo shirts and clothes made of uncomfortable materials – just some of the unflattering items of PE kit that deter some teenage girls from playing sport at school.
A new survey by Virgin Active has found that 39 per cent of girls (and 46 per cent of 16-year-old girls) enjoy being active but hate their PE kit.
Nearly half of the girls who took part in the research admitted to making up excuses to get out of PE lessons, while more than a quarter of the 16-year-olds said they avoided sport because they felt ugly in their sports kit.
Changing schools’ PE kit, however, could have a major impact in boosting girls’ participation in sport.
With youth inactivity a growing problem in the UK, the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation and Virgin Active teamed up with sportswear company Lexie Sport and challenged a group of girls from the Isle of Portland Aldridge Academy in Portland, Dorset, to design their perfect PE gear.
The girls jumped at the chance and came up with ideas like leggings, shirts with high-necked collars and dark colours that hide sweat patches.
Emily Marshall, 13, who created the winning design, said: “I enjoy exercise and know it is good for me but sometimes school PE kit makes me feel very self-conscious.
“It was really exciting to have the opportunity to design my perfect PE kit.”
Meanwhile, Rob Russell, head of campus at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Academy, said: “The new PE kit looks great. I’m proud of our pupils for not only creating these designs, but also for sharing their insight on how PE kit can be a barrier preventing young girls from taking part in sport.” He added that in the coming months the school would be looking to amend its uniform rules “to allow pupils more freedom of choice over their PE kit”. CAPTION: Changing kits: Student Emily Marshall models her winning PE kit design (top), while the graphic above shows the changes that girls said they wanted to see in their PE kit